[nfb-talk] Paperless Boarding Passes

Wm. Ritchhart william.ritchhart at sbcglobal.net
Sun Jan 25 15:05:19 UTC 2009

I just finished reading an article on coming changes in the airline
industry in 2009.  Here is a quote from the article that should concern
all of us.

Five Big Changes Coming to Air Travel in 2009
By Jessica Labrencis, SmarterTravel.com Staff


Paperless Boarding Passes
Paperless boarding passes are the wave of the future, and will become
more widespread this year. You'll soon be able to download a boarding
pass to your PDA or cell phone, and scan the barcode at an airport
security checkpoint scanner, eliminating the need for a physical
Continental was the first U.S. airline to test paperless boarding passes
in late 2007, and has since expanded its Mobile Boarding Pass option for
departures from Austin, Boston, Cleveland, Houston, New York's LaGuardia
airport, Newark, San Antonio, and both Reagan and National airports in
Washington, D.C.
Other carriers, including Air Canada, Alaska, American, Delta, and
Northwest, are also beginning to introduce paperless boarding options
for travelers.

The problem with the airlines providing the paperless boarding pass
option develops when what starts as an option becomes a requirement.  I
have been pricing cell phones and the mobile Speaks software lately.  My
Talks card for my Nokia 6620 died nearly two years ago.  So the phone is
useless to me for all it's features other than telephoning.  Think about
this paperless option.  When it becomes required, as it surely will over
time.  You will be charged extra for using a paper boarding pass.  

At the same time you are expected to use your cell phone not just to
board a plane, you will be expected to also use it to complete
transactions in every other imaginable and yet unimagined area of your
life.  The cell phone is already being used like a credit card and/or
bank debit card in Japan.  It is just a matter of time before this
convenient way of doing things takes hold here in the United States.   

My next question for us all to contemplate is how many blind folks do
you know who have the $300.00 to $600.00 to purchase a cell phone and
software to make it translate the text into speech.  The carrier that I
work for cuts you a discount on the software.  But none of there phones
cost less than $149.00 with a two year contract.  Any sighted person has
numerous phones to choose from that are free with a 2-year contract and
less than $100.00 with no contract.      

Clearly one of our top priorities as a group of concerned activist of
and for the blind should be to get the Telecom act passed with a
provision that all cell phones that are offered for sale by the carriers
be useable by whomever buys them, be they sighted, blind or disabled.


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